Who owns the copyright to a university teacher's recorded lecture? Do the students have the right to record lectures? What happens to your teaching material when you retire? Questions about copyright are many and complex and as technology develops, the questions become more numerous.

Copyright to research data and research material

There is no provision in the Copyright Protection Act on copyright for employees. The legal rules that apply to employees' copyright to materials created at work are instead based on custom and generally accepted practice. One such practice is the teachers’ copyright exemption applied within higher education.

The teachers’ copyright exemption is an unwritten rule of law that is based on a long tradition and that has developed through accepted practice. The teachers’ exemption primarily means that the copyright to both teaching and research material belongs to those people who are active teachers and researchers at higher education institutions.

For research, the teachers’ exemption means that it is the researcher or researchers who have produced research results and research material who alone or jointly hold the copyright to the material, not the employer. This differs from what applies in the labour market in general.

A prerequisite for research data and research material to be covered by copyright is that the material must meet the threshold of originality. This means a requirement that the material has a certain degree of originality and independence.

The teachers’ exemption means that the researcher's permission is required for anyone else, for example the university, other researchers, companies and so on, to have the right to use copyrighted research material. In situations where several researchers jointly hold the copyright to research material, the consent of all copyright holders is required for the transfer of the right to use the material. The copyright holder also has the right to be named upon publication of the material. Copyright protection occurs automatically as soon as the material has been completed, and there is no requirement to report or register the material in any way to receive copyright protection.

Patentable inventions that are created as part of teaching and research within higher education belong to the teacher/researcher, not to the employer. This is explicitly stated in the Swedish Act on the Right to Employees’ Inventions.

The higher education institution has a responsibility towards its employed researchers to provide information and support regarding researchers’ copyright protection rights and how they can exercise control of their copyright.